Known to many as the inexperienced, yet heroic officer, Horatio Hornblower from the A&E miniseries, Welsh man Ioan Gruffudd (pronounced Yo-Awn Griffith) was born and raised in Cardiff. His parents, both teachers, brought up Ioan and his brother and sister speaking the Welsh language.
As a youth, Ioan developed musical talents, playing the oboe in the South Glamorgan Youth Orchestra for a number of years. But Ioan had dreams of playing rugby for Wales, or becoming an airline pilot. "Like many Welsh boys my dream was to play rugby for my country. But hopefully, through acting I can represent my country on an international stage, and fly the flag that way," he once stated.
He was hooked by acting after landing a part in a Welsh language film when he was eleven. Two years later he won a role on a BBC soap opera, Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley), a part which lasted for seven years.
Ioan left home at 18 to attend the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts in London and continued his studies from 1992 to 1995. Just days after finishing his course he was on a train back to Cardiff for a role in a BBC drama A Relative Stranger, starring Siobhan Redmond and Jason Isaacs.
The actor had his first taste of the professional stage at London’s Gate Theatre and then won parts in two major feature films -- Titanic and Wilde. In Titanic, Ioan played Fifth Officer Lowe, who rescued survivors from the stricken ship. His Titanic role contrasted greatly to his role in Wilde, in which he played John Gray, one of Oscar Wilde’s earlier lovers.
At the age of 24, the actor landed the coveted lead role of C.S. Forester’s sea faring hero Horatio Hornblower."I was so lucky to have been offered the lead in a big series like this. Hornblower is such a complex character, and so well known to fans of C.S. Forester’s books that it was a terrific challenge for me," said Ioan at the time. The plucky young actor was determined not to miss out on a moment of the action, and insisted on doing all the stunts himself. This role catapulted him into stardom not only in England, but across the pond as well.
Following Hornblower, he landed the lead in another literary classic, playing Pip in Tony Marchant’s adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Ioan then joined an ensemble cast, playing Lt. John Feeley in Warriors (both for the BBC).
Finally lead roles in features followed. He learned to speak Yiddish for the role of Solomon in the 1998 film Solomon and Gaenor, put on an American accent as Lt. John Beales in Black Hawk Down (2001), and played Lancelot in the big budget American/British co-production King Arthur (2004). His biggest movie hit to date has been playing Reed Richards in Fantastic Four (2005), which grossed over $150 million at the domestic box office, and the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). A starrring role in Playing it Cool (2014) was followed by San Andreas (2015), Forever (2015), and Keep Watching (2016).
In 2017 he was cast in a starring role on the BBC TV series Liar, starring opposite Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt. The first season aired in 2017, and the second season in 2020. During this same period, he played the lead role of forensic pathologist Dr. Daniel Harrow on the Australian series Harrow, broadcast on Hulu in the States. The show has completed two seasons in 2018 and 2019, and is scheduled to film a third season, which was delayed due to the pandemic in 2020.
He played a role in the action crime drama Ava (2020), starring Jessica Chastain as an assassin who finds herself the target of the corrupt organization she works for when she's involved in a messy crime. Unfortunately the movie, which also stars Colin Farrell and John Malkovich, went straight to Digital/VOD due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ioan makes his home in Los Angeles.
The Professor and the Madman (2019)
Buttons, A New Musical Film (2018)
Keep Watching (2016)
San Andreas (2015)
Playing It Cool (2014)
The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)
Horrible Bosses / Méchants patrons (2011)
The Kid (2010)
The Secret of Moonacre (2008)
Fireflies in the Garden (2008)
Agent Crush (2008) (voice)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Amazing Grace (2006)
The TV Set (2006)
The Gathering (2006)
Fantastic Four (2005)
The Little Things (2005)
King Arthur (2004)
The Girl's Life (2003)
Black Hawk Down (2002)
Very Annie Mary (2000)
102 Dalmatians (2000)
Another Life (1999)
Solomon and Gaenor (1999)